Dental Implants: The Modern Way To Replace Missing Teeth

Why are dental implants important?

When you are missing a tooth or multiple teeth, it can affect you in more way than one.  Not only can your looks be affected, but your diminished ability to chew food and changes in your bite may affect your overall health.  Without a doubt, missing teeth negatively affects your quality of life.  Dental implants look, feel and function just like natural teeth and are widely recognized as the best replacement method that we have to offer in modern dental care.

What is a dental implant?

Dental implants are made of titanium. A completed implant includes three pieces: the implant itself (a titanium screw that is placed in the jawbone), the abutment (a connector between the implant and crown) and the crown (the part that is visible and looks like a tooth).  Dr. Schaberg and Dr. Campbell specialize in the placement of the implant itself and your restorative dentist places the abutment and crown.  Together we work as a team to ensure the best cosmetic and functional outcome.

Time is of the Essence

You may be surprised to hear that your jawbone is a lot like a muscle, in that it must be stimulated regularly in order to prevent atrophy. Therefore, when a tooth is lost, the jawbone begins to diminish almost immediately. In fact, studies show that within a year of tooth loss, there is up to a 50% decrease in bone width and some loss of bone height. This can cause both functional and esthetic problems that if not addressed quickly  can become more severe and more challenging to correct.  Thankfully, dental implants can take the place of natural teeth to provide the stimulus needed by the jaw to maintain your supporting bone. If done early, this greatly reduces the need for major bone grafting down the road.

What Happens When A tooth Is Lost:

Consequences of Bone Loss:

Are you considering a bridge or a dental implant?

While a bridge and an implant are both good options for tooth replacement, an implant provides several advantages over a bridge, but the main advantage is:

  • Bridges commit the surrounding teeth to more dentistry.  We often say “a bridge turns a one tooth problem into a three tooth problem”.  This is due to the fact that bridges, on average, have a 10 year lifespan.  If there is ever a problem with one of the teeth supporting a bridge, it may further complicate your situation.

How much do dental implants cost?

While the upfront cost is often more than that of alternatives such as bridges and dentures, dental implants outlast those approaches by several decades. This increased longevity makes implants the more affordable choice in the long run. 

Dental Implants: The Process

  1. Consultation and Treatment Plan: During the initial phase of the dental implant process, imaging is gathered along with your medical and dental histories to give us a clear picture of your current health. We will then explore your treatment options with you to formulate a plan that ensures that both your health goals and financial needs are met.
  2. Extraction: The next step is to have the tooth in question extracted. In some cases, we may be able to place the implant at the same time of extraction. In others, bone grafting will be required prior to implant placement (see next step).  When necessary, a transitional tooth replacement can be fabricated and worn to help with your esthetics.  
  3. Bone Grafting: It is fairly common for the jawbone to lack the mass needed to accept an implant. In this case, a bone graft will be performed first to strengthen the target area. Bone grafting is typically followed by several months of healing before the implant can be placed.
  4. Dental Implant Surgery: During the implant procedure itself, a titanium fixture is inserted into your jawbone. You will be anesthetized for comfort during the surgery, which takes about 1-2 hours.
  5. Integration of the Implant into Bone: After placing the implant, we cover it with the surrounding soft tissue and let it sit for at least 3 months in order to fuse with the bone.
  6. Final Restoration: After healing is complete, an abutment is placed on the implant to connect with the final crown restoration. Typically, the final restoration is done by a general dentist.

Normal Mouth
1. Normal
After Tooth Loss
2. Tooth Loss
Healed Bone, after bone grafting
3. Healed Bone
Dental Implant Placed
4. Implant Placed
Healing after dental implant placement
5. Healing
Dental Implant Restored
6. Implant Restored

middle-aged man and woman with good teeth

What Are The Potential Problems?

Dental implants have been shown to be a very predictable option, but are not a foolproof option.  We firmly believe in order to get the best result, proper preparation is necessary to prevent potential problems.  A comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of any active infection or periodontal disease is a must before any dental implant is placed.  Additionally Dr. Schaberg and Dr. Campbell are extensively trained in management of implant healing complications, which sets them apart.  We are dedicated to the best outcome for your care and investment in your dental implants.

How Long Will The Implants Last?

Implants usually last a long time. When patients are missing all of their teeth, long-term studies (more than 30 years) show an 80 to 90 percent success rate. For patients missing one or several teeth, recent studies show a success rate of greater than 95 percent, which compares favorably with other areas in the body that receive implant replacement (such as hips or knees). 

WestPort Periodontics is proud to offer a safe, comfortable and affordable dental implant experience to our patients with the help of cutting-edge technology and utilization of the latest techniques.

Call us at (314) 464-4676 to get started on your journey – we are here with the support, guidance, and expertise you deserve.